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Movie directed by Tony Scott

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Entertaining and exciting, with two very nice performances

  • Nov 13, 2010
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Normally, I can barely tolerate Tony Scott's frantic, even frenzied, directing style. He's all about fast cuts, swooping angles and cursory character development. He's often a bit like Michael Bay, with at least with a better visual sense. His films often indicate changes in time or mood through a change in color saturation. You CANNOT see one of his films and not constantly be reminded that you're watching a movie. Films like MAN ON FIRE and TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 give me a headache.

UNSTOPPABLE is a film that finally has Scott back on track (pun intended). His directing style hasn't changed…heck, it even stars his constant collaborator Denzel Washington. But the story matches his style. A runaway train, however scary such a thing might be, can pretty much only go straight and predictably…but Scott's over-baked sound mix, crazy editing and challenging camera angles make this hurtling train feel like a living monster.

The story is set in Pennsylvania. At one end of the state, a bunch of useless railyard workers, through a series of bad choices, send a train pulling a large load of toxic chemicals on its way with the throttle down and no one on board. Coming in the other direction are various obstacles…and another freight train carrying experienced railman Denzel and rookie conductor Chris Pine (from the recent STAR TREK). Eventually, these two guys find themselves needing make some difficult choices in order to try to stop this crazy train from killing thousands of people. That's really about all the film is about…yet it is very gripping.

We learn (or feel like we're learning) a lot about the workings of trains and rail systems. Rosario Dawson, in a thankless role, is the person in the control booth with all the lights and microphones and computers around her (you know, sort of like the room Washington sat in for most of TAKING OF PELHAM…). Her job is to spout statistics and physics, and to get into ridiculous yelling matches with the corporate suits, who can't make a single reasonable decision. It's one thing to try to cast scorn on corporate types…it's another to make them behave about as brightly as a teenager in a slasher movie.

But the movie rests very comfortably on the shoulders of Washington and Pine. Washington is in coasting mode, relying primarily on his still considerable charisma. But he's smart and funny, and is simply a professional doing a great job of playing another professional in another profession. But best of all is Pine. I liked him a lot in STAR TREK (as Captain Kirk), but I worried that he was getting by on good looks and a smart mouth, coupled with a spectacle of a movie. But here, he's still "hunky", but he feels blue collar and convincing. When called upon to act bravely, he doesn't come off as a hero, but as a guy making tough choices in order to protect loved ones. The two men have good chemistry…there's a little bit of the "old timer giving the new kid a hard time" banter…but less than I would have expected. I wouldn't say their scenes are particularly well-written; they simply do a nice job with what they've got.

Meanwhile, the two trains hurtle, helicopters fly, mishaps and crashes occur all leading up to a remarkably tense and exciting final 15 minutes. UNSTOPPABLE is not a classic action film…but it is a very worthy effort and it made for an excellent evening at the movies. I also liked that it is a comfortable PG-13…there was plenty of noise and crashing, but no gratuitous death and gore. It was a good blue collar film about some great blue collar guys.

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November 17, 2010
This was a formula movie but I liked it. Not the most realistic movie out there but hey, it did its job. Thanks!
More Unstoppable (2010 movie) reviews
review by . November 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tony Scott Delivers A Total Popcorn Thrill Ride!
Tony Scott and Denzel Washington together have given us some hits and misses throughout their careers. Well, didn’t the two create another train movie called “Pelham 1 2 3” very recently? I guess that means the two are in familiar ground. Tony Scott’s train movie “Unstoppable” has been inspired by true events that occurred in 2001 called the “Crazy Eights” unmanned train incident that happened in Finlay, Ohio. Yes, the film is pretty simple and quite …
review by . March 07, 2011
Tony Scott has watched too much MTV in his life. There's a massively over-used camera shot which I'm sure he created but you see it everywhere now - the video is sped up, slow-motioned, given a contrast flash, and then sped up again. It was innovative for the first 100 times but has become his editing trick of choice for everything from the "establishing scene shot" to "we need another 3 seconds of film here and we already paid the music guys".      …
review by . August 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This film was so simple yet it was entertaining and tense and best of all it seemed to stress family, loyalty, honor, all without bad language and violence that seem to accompany most thrillers these days. A train engineer accidently leaves a train in gear with nobody in the cab. That train gets away from him and accidently engages itself in a fast gear.    When Rosario Dawson (the train company's traffic coordinator) gets called, she realizes that she has a problem on her hands …
review by . April 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     It looks like Tony Scott is getting creative. Here, the brother of the even-more-well-known Ridley Scott has made a film that is all fun, all craft, and lastly, all thrills. Out of all the thrillers to be released in 2010 ("Piranha 3D", "Salt", to name a few), "Unstoppable" is one of the best. It's a no-hold thrill-ride that knows where it's going, and has a handle on what it's doing. It's a film directed by Tony Scott, for crying out loud. That is, perhaps, …
review by . November 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I had high hopes as far as Denzel Washington is concerned. However, this is not that movie.            Unstoppable is action packed, high speed and I may have even enjoyed it thoroughly. BUT, and that's a big But, it lacks that special touch, the wow factor and to be fair to everyone (me inclusive) concerned, it's anti-climax! Still, not forgetting that this is a movie inspired by a true event, dramatic portrayal of a pending disaster is not in the …
review by . November 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There aren't a great deal of thrillers out there that I can say keep me on the edge of my seat or that make me wonder just how things will turn out.  So for Tony Scott's Unstoppable to do so was quite a surprise to me.  As I watched I actually found myself genuinely drawn into the situation at hand.  Unstoppable isn't brainy but it isn't exactly stupid either.  It's a well made film in spite of some of its smaller flaws.      Unstoppable …
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I finally got to see this one a couple weeks ago; I really liked the action in it, though I thought the characters were rather boring; even Denzel Washington.  I sat on the edge of my seat throughout much of it, yet when it was over this flick was completely "forgettable".
review by . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      Unstoppable is about a veteran engineer (Frank/Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (Will/Chris Pine) who race against time to prevent a railroad catastrophe. They have to stop a moving train at full speed that carries a cargo full of chemical products, so they engage in a pursuit to catch the train from the back and accelerate in the opposite direction in order for the train to slow down. This is a story based on real facts so we already know the process and the result …
review by . November 15, 2010
Tis the season for Oscar bait, and with that comes added depth to the movies coming out this season. Unstoppable doesn't contain a single extra layer. You know exactly what you're getting. A train you can't stop dangerous chemicals on the tracks, headed towards a small blue collar town, with a train full of children coming in the opposite direction. We're one horse and a sweet mustache away from a Dudley-do-right cartoon. Cue the woman tied to the tracks.      …
Quick Tip by . April 04, 2011
Great film. Great popcorn fun. Denzel Washington turns in yet another reliable performance, and Chris Pine proves that he's growing into a box office contender himself.
About the reviewer

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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


Unstoppable is a 2010 American action thriller film directed by Tony Scott, written by Mark Bomback and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. The film tells the story of a runaway train, and the two men (Washington and Pine) who attempt to stop it. The film was released in the United States and Canada on November 12, 2010.

After panning across some idling diesel locomotives under the opening credits, the film begins with scenes at two rail yards in different regions of Pennsylvania run by the Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR). In the Fuller yard in northern Pennsylvania, children arrive for a school field trip on rail safety. Meanwhile, in the southern Pennsylvania town of Stanton, Will Colson (Chris Pine) gets up for work, stopping to surreptitiously watch his wife put their son on the school bus. He calls her but she refuses to even answer.

Arriving at work, Colson, a conductor, gets his orders for the day and learns he will be working with engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), with whom he has never worked before. He goes to a group of older workers, with whom he has some barbed words over their age differences, and finds Barnes among them. While he goes to punch in, the other older workers complain about being displaced by Colson, who they say got his job through family connections in the union.

Meanwhile, in Fuller, the yardmaster yells at a pair of hostlers who have been standing idle near a train to get it moved so the schoolchildren's ...
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Director: Tony Scott
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes
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